Eunice Miles (1917–1997)
Miles’s fascination with gemstones began early, when she played with her grandmother’s gem and mineral collection as a child. She studied geology in college during the 1930s and approached Dr. Edward Wigglesworth, then director of Boston’s New England Museum of Natural History and later head of GIA’s East Coast office, to learn more. Although women “simply were not accepted in the field,” as she recalled, Wigglesworth took her on as an assistant and taught her mineralogy and gem testing.
During the 1950s, Miles helped establish GIA’s reputation with the New York diamond trade, and clients came to recognize her initials on diamond grading reports. Identification became her area of expertise as the flow of diamonds to the lab increased. In response to sophisticated new diamond coatings, she developed an optical technique for detecting them with magnification. Miles was cited in the U.S. Department of Mines’ 1963 annual report for her work, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation later used her data to arrest a major dealer of fraudulently coated diamonds.
The Manhattan chapter of the GIA Alumni Association honored the pioneering “Grande Dame of Gemology” in 1989 when it created a scholarship in her name.